the man who fell to earth

bowie a

Yesterday was Bowie day at Furillen. I streamed the following albums:

Space Oddity (1969)
The Man Who Sold The World (1970)
Hunky Dory (1971)
The Rise and Fall of Ziggy Stardust and the Spiders from Mars (1972)
Alladin Sane (1973)
Diamond Dogs (1974)
Young Americans (1975)
Station to Station (1976)
Heroes (1977)
Lodger (1979)
Scary Monsters [and Super Creeps] (1980)
Let’s Dance (1983)
Outside (1995)
Heathen (2002)
Reality (2003)
The Next Day (2013)
Blackstar (2016)

I will let the stream play on today, before reverting to the usual ambient music.

I had a fascinating time going through Bowie’s catalogue: the incredibly productive period in the 1970s, of course, but also some real gems from later on. Even supposed duds like Outside (1995) contain some great music.

As for Blackstar – the man’s style, in passing, leaves me speechless.

I also recommend this video, which is of David singing ‘Heroes’ at my favourite festival, Glastonbury, in 2000.

 

the end of the pier

With the end platform now in place, Furillen’s pier is finished.

pier complete a

As I mentioned in another blog entry, this was the result of a fortuitous meeting I had at Furillen with KT Syakumi, a highly skilled builder – she calls herself a ‘craftsperson’ – who stepped up to the challenge.

The result speaks for itself.

https://flic.kr/p/D26BM4

This really is a thing of rare beauty.

Cold landscapes 1

Like the airstream that looks out towards it, the pier’s impact is enhanced – for me, at least – by its correspondence to the real thing.

furillen-trailer

Although I moved the airstream to the right – it simply works better that way inworld – the comparison is striking when viewed from the south.

fuillen north

All credit for this must go to KT. She was meticulous in her use of photographs to get the structure of the pier right – as far as Second Life prim constraints will allow – and to reproduce textures from the original.

While many people talk – rightly, I must say – of Furillen’s unique atmosphere in Second Life, this is really the first structure that can be seen only on this sim.

Cold landscapes 2

I don’t think it will be the last.

geometry

As I mentioned in an earlier blog, geometry is crucial to the lay-out of Furillen as a sim. It seemed important to me not just to represent the contrast between minimalist beauty and brutal industrialism as a contrast in textures. This is fine, but too simplistic.

I wanted to build this opposition between nature and machine into the very heart of the sim. This meant having to play around with form.

The signature tree line is the best example of this principle at work.

treeline b

The trees themselves are thoroughly natural: bare, slightly green with a hint of snow on the bark. But they are arranged in a very precise and deliberate way – as firs so often are, of course.

Furillen

So that’s all there is to it? Not quite.

Pan out. South of the tree line, set back, is another line.

treeline c

An echo.

Furillen

This is almost exactly the same length as the line of trees, and consists of electricity poles made of of concrete – mixed with the very limestone, perhaps, that was dug out of the ground here.

treeline d

For me, this blurs the distinction between what is natural, and what is not.

Connected

This is probably the better way to think about Furillen.

It’s not simply about stark contrasts. There is something more subtle going on.

exit

There is a door on the south east corner of the sim marked ‘exit’.

exit 01_002

Some people ask me what it’s for. Nothing, is the answer.

Some ask it does. Nothing.

What, exactly, would you like it to do?

Furillen 3

Others ask why I put it there.

Perhaps this seems a bit obscure, but it reminds me of that moment in The Truman Show when Jim Carrey bumps into the edge of his sim, gets out of his boat, finds the exit door, and leaves.

the_truman_show_jim_carrey

I love that scene.

I like to imagine how mind-blowing it would be to discover that what you thought was your life is merely entertainment for people who inhabit a much bigger world.

5

That what you thought was ‘reality’ is merely a distraction.

So what’s this got to do with Furillen?

Nothing. And everything.

-Exit-

the airstream

Besides the long pier, the airstream stands out as a symbol of the real Furillen. Its position is evocative: standing besides that solitary tree, set against the rough concrete of the slag heap next to it. The airstream points out to sea, giving a view on to the pier that must create a wonderful feeling of space, in contrast to the cramped conditions inside. Here is ethereal beauty juxtaposed with brutal industrialism – the very core of what Furillen represents in my eyes.

furillen-trailer

Like Furillen’s chairs, part of me wishes that this had been all my idea, a product of Footman’s imagination and flair. The potential for the airstream to be played off against different kinds of light, its capacity for sheer moodiness, would be a characteristic move of a sim designer in Second Life.

And yet …

airstream__large

… knowing that there is a real airstream situated at the real Furillen, that you can go and photograph it for yourself, and that you can even rent it for your vacation – these things, for me, make the scene even more evocative and powerful, even more captivating, than if it was just a virtual creation.

Having said that, the Second Life version adds a touch of the surreal that arguably only we can achieve.

Sweet isolation

It is this constant interplay and tension between the virtual and real Furillen that has made the process of building and developing the sim so fascinating.

New light for new times

As the pictures here will testify, I took some liberties with the virtual version of Furillen, using a tree whose wind-battered appearance fits the airstream itself perfectly, and placing it to the right rather than left of the pier.

Homeless

It is a special place; visitors to the sim spend hours sitting inside it or taking pictures of it; it is often the first thing you see when you arrive at the sim.

Solitude

To many visitors – and perhaps even to me – the airstream is Furillen.

Furillen..